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Gaming Guru

Jeff Simpson

Columnist Jeff Simpson: MGM, Lanni Just Keep Growing

24 October 2005

MGM Mirage Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Lanni thinks big.

The state's biggest employer and taxpayer has four huge projects on its plate, but Lanni and his brain trust are already gameplanning the company's next wave of development.

In a meeting in Lanni's Bellagio office last week, he said the company's commitment to growth is clear. The $5 billion CityCenter project on the Boardwalk casino site between Monte Carlo and Bellagio is slated to open in mid-2009.

The company's $1 billion-plus Macau casino is scheduled to open in less than two years, and MGM Mirage also is spending hundreds of millions to build a permanent MGM Grand casino in Detroit and to reconstruct its hurricane-damaged Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss.

But those four investments haven't stopped Lanni and his senior executives from lining up additional growth opportunities.

One, in the Far East, is the company's bid to build a casino in Singapore. Lanni believes MGM Mirage's proven ability to provide top-flight entertainment, convention, hotel and dining offerings would allow it to leverage significant income in a market expected to support those types of revenue streams more than does the gambling-focused action in Macau.

And Lanni said the success of the company's 50-50 partnership with Boyd Gaming Corp. in the spectacularly profitable Borgata megaresort has whetted MGM Mirage's appetite for additional investment in Atlantic City.

Although he said it would be premature to say that the company has made a firm decision to develop its 55-acre site next to Borgata, Lanni said MGM Mirage would probably decide by this time next year whether to build a condominium, hotel, retail and casino development on the choice parcel.

"We're going to develop there on our own; we're thinking of a CityCenter East project," he said. "A lot could be done on that property." ***

Times change. A couple of years ago Nevada gaming regulators' heads probably would have been spinning over invitations the Palms sent out for a party celebrating the grand opening of the Hardwood Suite in the property's new Fantasy Tower, a hotel suite with its own half basketball court, locker room, personalized jerseys, a pool table and a poker table.

And optional cheerleaders.

The invitations offer recipients seven satirical lessons "On being a real baller," utilizing cartoon drawings.

Lesson three, "The Ref," shows a player wearing a jersey emblazoned with the name "Pimp Dad" questioning a ref's traveling call.

"Don't like his call?," the invitation reads. "Knock him the f*** out. BAM. F*** him, it's your suite." The second cartoon shows a ref flat on his back with stars circling his head, Pimp Dad standing over him.

Lesson four, "The fully-stocked bar," offers: "Have the cheerleaders dance with each other on the bar top. And if your sally-ass doesn't leave the bar totally empty when you check out, then your entire night was a bust. Walk away in shame, girly man."

Lesson five, "NBA-sized Murphy beds" describes the pop-out beds built right into the walls of the court. The accompanying cartoon shows two cheerleaders on a bed, one in cheerleader attire, the other stripped down to bra, panties, garter and stockings, having a pillow fight.

Lesson six, for "The full-on 360-degree round couch," shows a round couch with basketball shorts, a cheerleader skirt, a pom-pom, a bra and panties on top, and advises: "Man, if you don't know what to do with a round couch you shouldn't be renting this room. In fact, you shouldn't be reading this invite. Yeah, don't even show up to the party."

And lesson seven, "10-person Jacuzzi," shows a cartoon of a man in a hot tub with four women seated alongside him. "Dress your cheerleaders in tiny white T-shirts and throw in a bar of soap. Then pull up a chair and let the suds fly."

After the Hard Rock triumphed last year when the Nevada Gaming Commission allowed the hotel to make satirical reference to criminal activity in its advertising, the Gaming Control Board probably wouldn't question the invitation's satirical reference to assaulting a referee, Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Friday.